Until you see an Atreus in person, it's hard to comprehend just how compact it is. But don't let that tiny package fool you. This is a real mechanical keyboard, with full-travel keyswitches mounted in an anodized aluminum plate and the same generous 19mm key spacing you'll find on a traditional desktop keyboard. Inside, it's powered by a Microchip ATmega32U4 MCU, the same chip that's inside an Arduino Leonardo and a Keyboardio Model 01. It comes with firmware source code, as well as a graphical configuration tool. It connects to your computer or tablet over USB.
But it really is very small. At just 24.3 x 10 x 2.8cm (9.6 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches), it's easy to bring your keyboard with you everywhere.
To get a better sense of just how compact the Keyboardio Atreus is, you can print out this PDF:
(Make sure your computer is set to print things at actual size, rather than shrinking or stretching them to fit on a sheet of paper. It should fit on a standard sheet of A4 or letter / 8.5"x11" paper.)
The Atreus’ layout puts all the keys in columns aligned to your fingers, so you never need to stretch or twist to reach a key. The keys are the same size as on a regular desktop keyboard, but they're laid out in a much more compact way that matches how your hands work. Everything you need is easy to reach. (Since the keyboard is so compact, your mouse or trackball is closer, too.)
Rather than being arranged in rows like a typewriter, the Atreus' keys are arranged in columns, with each column just right for the finger that hits it. Each half of the keyboard is angled inward at 10 degrees, to help keep your arms and shoulders in a more neutral posture.
A traditional keyboard has 104 keys. A compact laptop keyboard typically weighs in at 78 keys. The Keyboardio Atreus manages to fit all the same functionality into just 44 keys. We do this by assigning keys to different "layers".
The default layer is where you'll find your letters and most of your standard punctuation.
Tap or hold the Fun key and your Atreus will shift to the Fun (Function) layer, where you'll find numbers, arrow keys, and the rest of your symbols.
From there, press the Upper key to get to the Upper layer, where you'll find media keys, F keys, and other similar stuff.
Learning to type on any new keyboard layout takes patience and practice. If you've never typed on a split keyboard before, it can be quite an adjustment, but one we think is really worth it. Your hands and wrists will thank you.
Similarly, learning to type on a keyboard with multiple layers can be a bit of an adjustment. At first, it may sound a little bit exotic, but it's something most folks can adjust to relatively quickly. After all, the symbols above the numbers on a "regular" keyboard are just a layer you access with the Shift key.
The standard Atreus layout has been refined over the past few years and is a great option if you're just getting started with split, columnar keyboards. If you're coming from the Model 01, you might end up preferring a Model 01 style layout, which we're still refining. This layout will use the standard Atreus keycaps and will be available on all Keyboardio Atreus keyboards.
Of course, one of the great things about having a customizable keyboard is that you can customize it. If the layout the Atreus ships with isn't right for you, it's easy to change it to match where your fingers think the keys should be.
The easiest way to change the Atreus' layout is using our point and click configuration tool— no programming required. It runs on Windows 10, macOS, and Linux. (And, of course, it's open source and available on GitHub.)
Once you've customized your layout, you can rearrange the keycaps to match—all of the keycaps are the same shape. Additionally, the laminated layout card that comes with your keyboard is blank on one side, so you can fill it in with a whiteboard marker as you learn your custom layout.
The firmware powering all our keyboards, Kaleidoscope, is open source and freely available on Github. If you want to build complex macros, add in joystick emulation, change how the Atreus speaks USB, or make keys do things we haven't thought of yet, Kaleidoscope is where you'd start.
Kaleidoscope is incredibly powerful, but we've done our best to make it newbie-friendly. We built it on top of the Arduino core, to make it easy for folks who aren't familiar with embedded development or C++ to be able to do amazing things. At the same time, you're not restricted to the Arduino IDE when working with it. If vi or Emacs is your weapon of choice, everything's set up to build from the command line using standard tooling.
Kaleidoscope supports all the things you'd expect, like layouts stored in EEPROM, serial communications, full NKRO, mousekeys, and crazy USB tricks. Most new features can be added to Kaleidoscope as plugins, of which we have many already.
Your Atreus comes fully assembled with your choice of four different kinds of switches:
- Kailh BOX White: pick this switch if you love clicky switches. It's satisfyingly clicky, with a tactile bump at 1.8 mm and 50g actuation force.
- Kailh Speed Copper: pick this switch if you want highly responsive, tactile feel. It has a high tactile bump at 1.1 mm and 50g actuation force. Many folks say these switches feel similar to the Matias Quiet Click switches we featured on the Model 01.
- Kailh BOX Brown: these are a traditional soft tactile switch with a tactile bump at 1.8 mm and 50g actuation force.
- Kailh BOX Red: these switches have a linear force curve, with no tactile bump and no click. Smooth typing with actuation at 1.8 mm and 50 g actuation force.
All of our switches are made by Kailh, one of the best switch makers in the world. Kailh rates all of these switches for at least 70 million keypresses.
The Keyboardio Atreus features hot-swap sockets designed to let you remove the switches with a standard keyswitch puller (not included) and replace them with just about any MX-style switch, no soldering or disassembly required.
The standard keycaps shipped with the Keyboardio Atreus will be black, laser-engraved keys in the XDA profile. They will be made out of PBT, a high-quality plastic beloved by keyboard enthusiasts for their resilience. The standard F and J keys installed on the keyboard include homing bars.
If you choose a keyboard with labeled keys, your keyboard will come with extra F and J keys without homing bars. If you want to rearrange your keys to a layout like Dvorak or Colemak, you can use the alternative F and J keys so you don't have homing bars in the wrong place.
All keyboards will come with Keyboardio Butterfly and 'Any' keycaps.
Every Keyboardio Atreus comes with:
- A shielded 1.5M USB A to USB-C cable
- A laminated layout card featuring the standard layout on one side and a blank layout for you to customize on the other
- Four extra keycaps: Alternative F and J keys without homing bumps, a Keyboardio Butterfly key, and an Any key
- Our standard one year warranty
- Switches: 44 x full-travel mechanical Kailh MX-style switches (Rated at 70 million+ presses)
- Hot-swap sockets: 44 x Kailh sockets (Rated at 100 switch changes)
- Rollover: Full NKRO (no ghosting)
- Microcontroller: Microchip ATmega32U4
- Interface: USB 2.0 over USB-C
- Included cable: 1.5m USB-C to USB A
- Compatible operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, iPadOS
- Key plate: black-anodized aluminum*
- Enclosure: Black ABS plastic
- Keycaps: Black PBT plastic with laser-engraved legends
- Dimensions: 24.3 x 10 x 2.8cm (9.6x3.9x1.1 inches)
- Weight: 310g (10.8 oz)
All of these specs, are, of course, subject to change, though we don't expect them to change much, if at all.
We designed the Keyboardio Atreus to be easy to field-strip with a standard Philips screwdriver, though it's not something you should generally need to do.
The anodized aluminum plate is secured to the bottom tray with 12 countersunk flat-head tapping screws hidden underneath the keycaps.
Once you lift the plate and circuit board out of the tray, you'll see that all of the components on the circuit board are mounted to the bottom side. This makes them easy to access without separating the circuit board and the plate.
The circuit board is secured to the plate with seven pan-head machine screws. If you ever need to separate the circuit board from the plate, just unscrew it—no soldering iron required.
Your keyboard and accessories will ship from our Hong Kong warehouse partner, located just across the border from our factory in Dongguan, China. We've been working with them since the beginning of 2018. As a global shipping hub, Hong Kong is a convenient and efficient origin point for shipments to just about anywhere.
The discounted shipping rates we're able to offer you are "DDU" rates, which do not include prepayment of tax or duty. You will be responsible for any include duty, tax, or import charges.
As of March 2020, we don't believe that you will owe any duty on keyboards or accessories if your shipping address is inside the United States.
Keyboardio is a tiny company making beautiful, comfortable keyboards. We're a husband-and-wife team that got started when Jesse couldn't find a keyboard that didn't make his wrists hurt, and so decided to spend a month making his own. One thing led to another, and now we've got thousands of happy customers.
We've always tried to be open about what we do. Phil Hagelberg, the designer of the original Atreus got his start, in part, from our early blog posts.